12 Amazing Summer Travel Deals — Including Last-minute Memorial Day Sales

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15 Amazing Beaches To Experience On Maui

The island of Maui is synonymous with excellent beaches and a water lover’s playground. With a wide variety of sun-soaked sandy beaches tailor-made to perfect your tan and rocky outcrops where surfers love to chase the perfect wave, Maui’s beaches offer amazing experiences.

Maui has beaches for overall fun in the sun, surfing, family friendly beaches, secret beaches frequented by local Hawaiians, beaches perfect for hiking, and beaches perfect for camping. Our list is not all-inclusive, but we have highlighted a great selection of Maui’s amazing Pacific Ocean options.

Best For Overall Fun In The Sun

When you want to kick off your flip flops and soak up the Pacific sunshine, Kapalua Bay has it all.

1. Kapalua Bay – West Maui

Kapalua Bay is a gorgeous sheltered beach surrounded by oceanside residences and resorts. Located on the west side, Kapalua Bay is framed by rocky outcrops keeping the surf in check and making the water great for swimming.

Grab your snorkel gear, you will find this calm, sheltered cove is a fun spot to hunt for beautiful fish and Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Pro Tip: Kapalua Bay does not have a lifeguard but there are public restrooms and showers.

Surfers at North Shore.
Surfers At North Shore (Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett)

Best For Surfers

Are you an experienced surfer, surfer want-to-be, or simply just love watching these well-muscled athletes ride a huge wave? Then these beaches need to be on your Maui beach bucket list. Check out the Maui Surf Reports and Cams before you head out for the 411 on where the best waves are calling the expert surfers. Winter is the best season for surfers when the waves are bigger and more challenging. If you are a newbie, select a calmer time of year or a sheltered beach to give this sport a go.

2. Honolua Bay – West Maui

During the winter months, Honolua Bay is a wonderful spot to watch well-trained surfers attack powerful waves. However, during the summer, the surf is gentle and perfect for snorkeling. The beach is fairly rocky and not ideal for that perfect sunbathing afternoon.

Pro Tip: There are no lifeguards or restroom facilities provided at Honolua Bay.

3. Ho’okipa Beach Park – North Maui

Windsurfing is the sport of choice at Ho’okipa Beach Park. You can relax on the sandy beach and watch expert windsurfers navigate the waves, wind, and currents. Board surfers also love this spot and share the waves with their fellow water lovers.

Swimming can be tricky due to the undertow and shallow water wading should be approached with caution. Ho’okipa is a wonderful spot for sunbathing and living vicariously through the surfers.

You can also frequently spot large Hawaiian green turtles sunning on the beach. It can be startling when they move, since you will easily mistake them for giant rocks.

Pro Tip: Ho’okipa has lifeguards and restroom facilities.

Looking out to the Pacific Ocean at Honomanu Bay.
Abbie Warnock-Matthews / Shutterstock.com

4. Honomanu Bay – North Maui

The black sand and pebbly beach at Honomanu Bay is a fun adventure for picture taking. Swimming is dangerous and not recommended. The men and women that surf here have well- honed skills and knowledge of the water’s rocky base.

The views are gorgeous; while you are on the road to Hana, you should definitely take a break at the roadside lookout. If you are considering driving the northshore road to Hana, be sure to check out our travel guide.

Pro Tip: There are no lifeguards or restroom facilities provided at Honomanu Bay.

Kaanapali Beach.
Kaanapali Beach (Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett)

Best For Families

Vacationing in Hawaii with your family is a wonderful way to share the travel experience and make lasting memories. Maui offers several beaches with lifeguards and public facilities making them a perfect option for family friendly adventures.

5. Ka’anapali Beach – West Maui

If you are staying at a classic west Maui resort, you are most likely on or near Ka’anapali Beach. Miles of soft white sand dotted with world class resorts, private cabanas, and all the on-the-water toys you can dream up.

Perfect for swimming, snorkeling, sunning, paddle boarding, boogie boarding, and more, Ka’anapali Beach is the quintessential Hawaiian beachside vacation getaway.

Pro Tip: There are some lifeguards along with public restrooms and showers at Ka’anapali Beach.

6. Baldwin Beach – North Maui

Baldwin Beach Park is a beautiful sandy, north shore beach perfect for a morning stroll, a mid-day swim, or an evening picnic to watch the sun go down.

Swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and other on-the-water activities are ready for your family friendly beach day.

Pro Tip: At Baldwin Beach you will find lifeguards along with public restrooms and showers.

7. Baby Beach – North Maui

On one end of Baldwin Beach is Baby Beach. Not to be confused with Baby Beach near Lahaina, this beach offers a calm bay area perfect for families with small children.

Grab all of your family beach toys, blankets, and umbrellas for a lovely day at Baby Beach.

Pro Tip: At Baldwin Beach you will find lifeguards along with public restrooms and showers.

Sunset on Big Beach in Makena State Park in Maui Hawaii.
Oneloa (Big Beach) (Photo Credit: Ivan_Sabo / Shutterstock.com)

8. Makena State Park Beaches – South Maui

Mākena State Park is home to three beaches: Puu Olai (Little Beach), Oneloa (Big Beach), and Oneuli (Black Sandy Beach). The beaches are popular spots for sunbathing, snorkeling, and boogie boarding.

There is a parking and entrance fee associated with Makena State Park. However, if you are looking to spend the day at a lovely beach facility with your family, this is a great spot. The state park offers picnic areas.

Worth noting, Puu Olai has been known to be frequented by clothing optional guests; something to keep in mind if you have little ones in tow.

Pro Tip: At Makena State Park there are lifeguards at Oneloa along with public restrooms and shower facilities.

9. Hamoa Beach – East Maui

A popular beach with tourists, Hamoa Beach is a wonderful option for beginning surfers and boogie boarders.

Pro Tip: There are no lifeguards at Hamoa Beach but there are public facilities.

Best For Exploring Nature

The island of Maui is a wonderful spot for exploring. Be sure to check out our favorite Hawaiian Hiking spots if you are interested in exploring the islands on foot.

Wai’anapanapa State Park in Maui (Photo Credit: Shane Myers Photography)

10. Wai’anapanapa State Park – East Maui

Wai’anapanapa State Park is a gorgeous, remote area near Hana on the eastern side of Maui. The rugged coastline should not be attempted by the faint of heart. However, if you love a thrilling adventure into the wild, then Wai’anapanapa is the spot for your Maui beaches journey.

Hiking to blowholes past native flora and fauna drops you into the heart of ancient Hawaii. You will love the quiet solitude, stunning ocean vistas, and small black sand beaches with no footprints but your own.

Note that reservations and a fee are required.

Pro Tip: At Wai’anapanapa State Park you will find public restrooms and showers.

11. La Perouse Bay – South Maui

La Perouse Bay is part of the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve, an environmentally protected area. The rocky shoreline is a lava rock-surrounded bay. Hiking to the beautiful bay area requires good, solid shoes to trek over the often sharp rocks, but intrepid travelers will be rewarded with unique and stunning views.

Swimming is prohibited while the reserve’s ecology is recovering. Check the Ahihi Kinau website for the latest details.

Pro Tip: La Perouse Bay offers no lifeguards nor rest facilities.

Rocky Beach, blue sky and ocean.
Rocky Beach (Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett)

Best For Camping

Photo Rocky Beach

Cooled by ocean breezes and lulled by the repetitive waves, camping along the ocean is a life experience everyone should try at least once. Whether you are roughing it in a tent or nesting in a luxurious van, sleeping under the stars will afford you a deep connection with nature.

12. Olowalu – West Maui

When you want a camping experience on Hawaii, but did not pack your gear, rent a Tentalow from Camp Olowalu and enjoy outdoor living on Maui. Campfires, water sports, and Hawaiian sunshine are some of the treasures you will discover.

Pro Tip: There are no lifeguards or public facilities at Olowalu. 

13. Black Sand Beach

Black Sand Beach in Wai’anapanapa State Park is an amazing spot to explore. The volcanic sand beach is a unique beach experience.

You can rent a cabin for your Maui camping experience and commune with mother nature. The camp is a treasure trove of activities including hunting lava tubes, blowholes, caves, and rock formations.

Pro Tip: At Wai’anapanapa you will find public restrooms and showers.

Maui Sunset
Maui sunset (Photo Credit:Sandi Barrett)

Best For Hanging Out With The Locals

Some of the best beaches are the local beaches. Here you will find family and friends spending a sunny day enjoying the beautiful beaches of Maui.

14. Palauea – South Maui

Also known as White Rock Beach, Palauea Beach is a great local snorkeling spot when the ocean is calm. When the waves kick up, the visibility drops and the snorkeling is not great.

It is also a popular wedding beach since it is almost always nearly deserted. 

Pro Tip: There are no lifeguards or facilities at Palauea.

15. Hana Beach Park – East Maui

Hana Beach Park is one of the best beaches for swimming on the east side of Maui. With a gorgeous sandy beach, picnic facilities, and gentle surf, Hana Bay Beach is a favorite family friendly beach.

Pro Tip: At Hana Bay Beach you will find public restrooms and showers.

Toes in the sand at beach.
Sandi Barrett

Maui Beaches

When you are dreaming about soaking up the glorious Hawaiin sun on the amazing beaches on Maui, consider a few of our options. These beaches will be high on your must visit list as you plan your Maui vacation getaway.

For more Hawaiian destinations, check out these articles:

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9 Amazing Castles To Visit Along Germany’s Rhine River

Imagine yourself in a land so incredible that it feels as if you were dropped right into the pages of a fairy-tale. A place where the landscape is so breathtakingly beautiful that it has inspired artists and poets for years. A land that was once the center of the medieval Holy Roman Empire, and one of the most important trading areas for Europe. 

Believe it or not, a place like this truly does exist, and you can witness it for yourself when you visit the beautiful Rhine River in Germany. 

The most captivating portion of the Rhine is known as the Romantic Rhine Valley and can be found in the Upper Middle portion of the river. Encompassing 40 miles of river from Rudesheim to Koblenz, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is dotted with castles, hillside vineyards, steep cliffs, fairy-tale towns, and half-timbered villages. 

During our first visit to the Rhine Valley, my husband and I were amazed at the vast concentration of castles in the area. While cruising this portion of the Rhine River, we felt dizzy from moving our head back and forth so often trying to catch a glimpse of all of the castles!

There are so many amazing castles to visit along Germany’s Rhine River that you can devote an entire trip just to exploring them. Exploring this area allows you to not only see the incredible castles on the Rhine, but also dive into the history, culture, and, of course, the incredible Riesling wine that the region is famous for.

These amazing castles are accessible by car, train, and some by river cruise. Touring the castles of the Rhine is one of the best things to do and see in Germany!

While many of the castles are privately owned, others have been repurposed into museums and hotels, allowing visitors to enjoy them still today. With that in mind, let’s dive into the castle along the Rhine River! 

Klopp Castle in Bingen Am Rhein
LianeM / Shutterstock.com

1. Klopp Castle, Bingen Am Rhein

Klopp Castle sits atop the hillside overlooking the city of Bingen am Rhein and has a unique and interesting history.

Castles have stood on this site for centuries, being destroyed and rebuilt since Roman times. Like many of the castles of the Rhine, Klopp Castle was used by the Archbishop of Mainz to collect tolls on the river during its heyday. This is also the castle where the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV was held prisoner by his son.

Much of the castle you see today dates back to 1853, as the prior castles were destroyed in various wars. Currently owned by the city of Bingen am Rhein, Klopp Castle is now the town’s city hall and museum. 

Visitors can enjoy climbing the castle tower and courtyard on their visit. The tower is open April–October from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. 

Rheinstein Castle in Trechtingshausen, Germany
Video Media Studio Europe / Shutterstock.com

2. Rheinstein Castle, Trechtingshausen

Located on a rocky cliffside in the beautiful Loreley Valley, Rheinstein Castle hovers 270 feet above the Rhine River. 

Rheinstein Castle is one of the castles along the Rhine that allows you to stay the night. The castle has two stylish apartments, one of which is in the castle’s tower! Guests of the castle hotel also get to enjoy breakfast on the terrace overlooking the beautiful river.

In addition to the hotel, Rheinstein is also a public museum. From the gorgeous stained glass windows to the incredible antique furniture, you immediately see the love and care that has been devoted to Rheinstein Castle. 

Visitors are welcome to explore the castle on their own, following the signs that are placed throughout. During your visit, don’t miss the authentic catapult and the canon on site!

Please note that the castle is only accessible by a footpath that is not wheelchair accessible. 

Pro Tip: Rheinstein Castle is from the end of December until the middle of March, so plan your trip around this so you don’t miss this gorgeous castle!

Reichenstein Castle in Germany's Rhine Valley
Circumnavigation / Shutterstock.com

3. Reichenstein Castle, Trechtingshausen

Visitors to Germany’s Rhine River will find Reichenstein Castle located high above the Rhine on a rocky outcropping. Like many of the castles in the Rhine Valley, Reichenstein was left in decay until the era of Rhine Romanticism. 

The Rhine Romanticism period brought numerous artists, poets, and discerning people into the region. This brought about a rejuvenation period for many of the castles of the Rhine, including Reichenstein.

Tracing the origins of the castle, you discover that the castle dates back to the 1100s. The beautiful castle that you see today is a residential-style neo-Gothic castle that was first opened to the public in 1936. 

Reichenstein Castle offers 24 rooms for visitors to enjoy, or you can visit for the day to tour the castle and museum. The castle also hosts numerous events throughout the year including Easter at the Castle. 

Please note that Reichenstein Castle requires visitors to maneuver uneven surfaces and is not wheelchair accessible.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss afternoon tea at the onsite restaurant, Puricelli. Be sure you make prior reservations if you want to participate in the tea ceremony.

Sooneck Castle in Niederheimbach, Germany
annaj77 / Shutterstock.com

4. Sooneck Castle, Niederheimbach

When viewing Sooneck Castle from the Rhine River, it looks as if the rocks of the hillside naturally formed the beautiful castle. Located high on a ridge above the Rhine River, and encompassed in rose vines, Sooneck Castle is the definition of a fairy-tale castle!

Like most castles on Germany’s Rhine River, Sooneck Castle is open seasonally. Sooneck chooses to open from the end of March until the first of November. 

Sooneck Castle was originally built in the 11th century, but like other castles on the Rhine, it was destroyed numerous times. The castle’s great hall, turrets, and keep (which you can still visit today) date back to 1349. The rest of the castle was built in 1842, when it was restored by a Prussian royal family.

Touring Sooneck Castle does require walking, standing, and maneuvering some stairs.

Pro Tip: When visiting the Knight Hall, notice the picture of the Prussian soldier. Move around the room and watch how the soldier’s eyes follow you!

Stahleck Castle in Bacharach, Germany
Igor Plotnikov / Shutterstock.com

5. Stahleck Castle, Bacharach

Stahleck Castle is a 12th-century fortified castle located on the hillside overlooking the charming Rhine Valley city of Bacharach.

Boasting an interesting history of being destroyed and rebuilt, Stahleck Castle is thriving today as a popular youth hostel. The castle has 178 beds and proudly hosts families and youth groups in the Rhine Valley.

While the interior of the castle is for guests only, the castle courtyard is public and well worth a visit. Enjoy a coffee or ice cream on the terrace as you soak in the incredible views of the Romantic Rhine.

Due to the medieval terrain of the castle, the grounds are not wheelchair accessible and do require guests to be able to walk on uneven ground.

Gutenfels Castle in Kaub, Germany
Tony Roddam / Shutterstock.com

6. Gutenfels Castle, Kaub

Built in 1222, Gutenfels Castle sits overlooking the town of Kaub and is therefore often referred to as Kaub Castle. 

The historic castle and castle walls have been carefully preserved so that hotel guests can still enjoy them today. A stay at Gutenfels Castle gives guests access to the castle’s common rooms including their beautifully furnished library. 

Gutenfels also offers a variety of public events throughout the year. Be sure to check their website for the most up-to-date information. 

Pro Tip: This hotel fills up quickly and is only open to the public by appointment or during special events, so book your stay in advance if you want to enjoy Gutenfels Castle. 

Schoenburg Castle in Oberwesel, Germany
clearlens / Shutterstock.com

7. Schönburg Castle, Oberwesel

Standing high atop the hillside, Schönburg Castle is another one of the amazing castles to visit along Germany’s Rhine River.

Schönburg Castle successfully defended itself until 1689, when it was overpowered by the troops of Louis XIV. After sitting in disrepair until 1885, it was restored to the splendid castle that you can visit today.

Like several other castles on the Rhine, Schonburg is a castle hotel that welcomes guests seasonally throughout the year. 

If you choose not to stay at the castle, you can still visit the castle’s Tower Museum. This museum teaches you all about the history of the castle and gives you an opportunity to take in the breathtaking view of the Rhine Valley below.

In addition to the Tower Museum, visitors to Schonburg Castle can also enjoy lunch at the Cafe Bistro. 

As this is a medieval castle, there is uneven terrain and stairs to ascend and descend during your visit.

Marksburg Castle on the Rhine in Braubach, Germany
saiko3p / Shutterstock.com

8. Marksburg Castle, Braubach

Marksburg Castle is a rare castle on the Rhine River, as it is the only medieval castle on the Middle Rhine that was never destroyed. 

Located in the UNESCO World Heritage region of the Romantic Rhine, the 13th–15th century Marksburg Castle stands tall on the hillside above the town of Braubach. When viewing the castle from the river, the towering white fortress instantly commands your attention.

A tour of the castle takes visitors first through a series of gates before entering the incredible castle grounds. Once inside, you are introduced to what life was like during medieval times. The tour showcases the wine cellar, battery, herb garden, castle kitchen, chapel, and more. 

Since Marksburg Castle is in its original medieval state, there are no elevators on the property. Visiting the castle does require an uphill climb and the ability to navigate stairs and uneven terrain. The castle is not accessible by wheelchair.

A visit to Marksburg Castle should definitely be on your list of castles to visit on the Rhine River.

Lahneck Castle in Lahnstein, Germany
Olaf Holland / Shutterstock.com

9. Lahneck Castle, Lahnstein

Lahneck Castle is strategically located where the River Lahn joins the Rhine River. Built in 1244, Lahneck Castle held an important position as it served to help secure the silver mines in the area.

The castle is an eclectic mix of medieval, neo-Gothic, and 19th-century architecture as it has been remodeled and added on throughout its history. 

Visitors can enjoy a 40-minute guided tour of the castle, which is open from July 1 through November 1. A tour of Lahneck Castle teaches visitors the history of the castle as it walks you through several rooms of the castle, including the chapel and great hall.

Related Reading:

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10 Amazing European Destinations That Feel Like Time Stood Still

There are places in the world where you can turn a corner and it immediately seems like you have been transported to another age, and your surroundings look unchanged from centuries ago, as if time has stood still. Especially in Europe, with its many medieval town centers, time travel seems eminently feasible. Just replace the parked cars with carriages, the jeans people are wearing with breeches and long dresses, and you can easily imagine yourself in the place at another time.

The ease with which this is done is proven by the many series and films made in Europe. Just think of the Bridgerton series, filmed in Bath Spa , where time seems to have not changed anything in the city.

I have not included locations such as Pompeii or Greek historic sites, not because they do not allow time travel (in the case of Pompeii, time literally has stopped since the volcanic eruption), but instead listed destinations where modern life takes place within old surroundings and the historic quarters are used and integrated into day-to-day life.

Here are some of my favorite places in Europe where, in the blink of an eye, you can get transported to another era, turning your vacation into time travel.

Saint-Malo, France.
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

1. Saint-Malo, France

One of my favorite places in France, Saint-Malo showcases its time warp potential perfectly. Step through the chunky city gates into the walled Intra Muros part of the city, and you leave the modern city outside behind you and find yourself in a medieval fortified village, complete with cobbled lanes, crooked houses, and those enormous ramparts from where the views across the tidal islands on Saint-Malo’s doorstep have not changed in centuries. Even the fishing boats seem to fit the scene. Just imagine a few corsair-captained ships on the horizon, and you are back in the 12th century.

Pro Tip: At night, sit out on Place Chateaubriand, where you can appreciate the old, fortified wall while enjoying a modern drink in hand.

Oxford Univerity.
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

2. Oxford, UK

Oxford always makes me gasp with how little this old university town has changed over the hundreds of years. The colleges, part of the overall University of Oxford, have been a center of learning since the 1200s and have barely changed except that now students carry laptops and use Wi-Fi in the ancient libraries. There are many pictures which highlight just how much of a time warp you can expect there, but the best way is to not only visit the colleges and libraries, but simply turn into the narrow alleys behind the main streets, where cars cannot reach, and you’ll see it for yourself.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss a visit to the Bodleian Library, where ancient and modern work hand in hand. 

Venice gondola.
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

3. Venice, Italy

Imagine Venice without the tourists: the canals filled with gondolas, some bringing fresh produce to market, others taking a palazzo’s dirty laundry away. Scenes that have not changed at all over the years, and even more obvious in Venice due to the lack of cars. The buildings, the canals, the grand palazzi, even the small villages on the various islands in the lagoon are all as they have always been. Yes, there are modern water taxis and vaporetti, but now that the gigantic cruise ships are banned, it is only the people that look slightly out of place. But come at Carnevale, with everybody dressed up, and you will encounter a Venice where time stands still.

Pro Tip: For a true spectacle, book yourself into a proper costume ball, always hosted around Carnevale time.

The old springs in Tbilisi.
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

4. Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, is a heady mix of old and new, of different neighborhoods dating to different times. But Tbilisi’s old town, clinging to the hill between the imposing Narikala Fortress and the Kura River, looks like it did back in the 1300s, when merchants traveling the Silk Road stopped off to soothe their travel-weary bodies in the hot sulfur springs of Tbilisi. The many old bath domes, looking a little like upturned egg cartons, and the ravine where you can still see the springs emerging from the rockface, allow you to take a picture that would not have looked any different several hundred years ago.

Pro Tip: Walk up to Juma Mosque and turn into all the tiny, tiny lanes behind the private houses for great little discoveries.

Prague, Czech Republic.
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

5. Prague, Czech Republic

Standing in the main square, next to Prague’s town hall, facing the Tyn Cathedral and the beautiful astronomical clock operating since 1410 next to you, tilt your gaze up a little to cut out the modern-dressed passers-by, and you are back in a rich city in the Middle Ages. Turn toward the old Jewish Quarter with its atmospheric 15th-century cemetery, walk across Charles bridge, and you can see why this old city is so popular with those seeking out history that is still palatable today. 

Pro Tip: One of the oldest streets in Prague is Havelská Street, which holds a daily market dating to 1232. 

the city of Avignon, France.
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

6. Avignon, France

It is quite rare for a well-traveled European like me to gasp at historic sights, but Avignon’s famous bridge and the gigantic Pope’s Palace had my jaw drop down, and I am still in awe. The entire old town of Avignon is still encased in a sturdy fortified city wall, with chunky gates, and inside nothing much has changed since the 11th century. In 1309 the Papal Palace became the official residence of the popes, and they lived well: The building dwarfs everything around it.

Next to the palace lies the Pont Saint-Bénézet, better known as the Pont d’Avignon. This lovely old bridge was originally built across the Rhone River in the late 1100s and has been in ruins since the mid-1600s. Standing on it, looking across to the Papal Palace and Avignon’s fortification next to it, is a step back into history.

Pro Tip: Another little time-stood-still moment can be had in Rue des Teinturiers, the street of the textile dyers, alongside the small stream.

7. Korcula, Croatia

There is nothing better than stepping through a gate, call it a portal to another time, and finding yourself in a place where time stood still. And if the gate is on an island in the Adriatic Sea, a walled city crammed full of buildings where people have lived the same way for hundreds of years, that’s simply perfect. The Old Town of Korcula is reputedly the birthplace of Marco Polo, giving it some serious travel street cred. The little island has been populated since 400 B.C. and has, over the millennia been occupied by everybody from the Goths to the Romans, Slavs, and Byzantines, giving it a fascinating history and cultural background.

Pro Tip: Do step outside of the city walls and explore the forested side of the island, too.

Tourists walk along beautiful streets in Rothenburg ob der Tauber with traditional German houses, Bavaria, Germany.
Olena Z / Shutterstock.com

8. Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany

Never mind time travel, visiting Rothenburg ob der Tauber is like stepping into the pages of a fairy-tale book. This small town in northern Bavaria is brimming with crooked lanes and even crookeder half-timbered old buildings, dating back to the 12th and 14th centuries, seemingly unchanged by time or progress. To be fair, most of the buildings were destroyed during WWII, but have since been painstakingly reconstructed, even with the tilts and slants so typical for medieval buildings, and today barely a visitor is any the wiser. So, let’s ignore that fact and just enjoy the fairy tale, because, seriously, if a princess with a pointy hat and floating skirt and a dragon appeared in one of these lanes, you’d not even blink. One of the reasons they filmed a Harry Potter movie here.

Pro Tip: If you have the chance, visit in winter, preferably coinciding with the Christmas market and decorations in December.

9. Wells, UK

The smallest city in England, after the City of London, Wells is so well preserved that it is like stepping into a film set. There is the fabulous 13th-century cathedral, which incidentally allows in well-behaved dogs, and the moated Bishop’s Palace on which moat the famous Wells’ swans float and reportedly otters frolic, although I did not spot any despite patiently searching. The High Street full of cute pubs and cafes is crooked and quaint, and there is also Vicar’s Close, reportedly not only England’s but also Europe’s oldest residential street, accessed by yet another gate near the cathedral, and standing perfectly preserved for more than 650 years now. 

Pro Tip: Wells has no train station, but you can catch bus 376 from Bristol Temple Meads.

Castellfollit de la roca. Ancient city on a cliff in Spain.
Stanislav Simonyan / Shutterstock.com

10. Castellfollit De La Roca, Catalonia, Spain

This small town in the province of Girona in Catalonia, northern Spain, could not have changed over the years if it wanted to. Perched on top of a steep basalt cliff between the rivers Fluvià and Toronell, some 165 feet high and just over half a mile long, this is a somewhat precarious location for a town. The ancient houses of Castellfollit de la Roca, many made from lava-rock, are literally facing the abyss, with no space for expansion or indeed much change. Even stepping out of the backdoor could be seriously dangerous for some. Part of the volcanic region by the Pyrenees, the location of this town is scenic to say the least, and the narrow streets of the community together with the 11th-century church perched at the edge of the cliff are well worth a visit. But the best views of the incredible site are had from down below by the river.

Pro Tip: You can explore this and other medieval towns on a day trip from Barcelona.

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Travel tips from Amazing Race winners Will Jardell and James Wallington

Travel tips from Amazing Race winners Will Jardell and James Wallington

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Amazing hotels you’ve seen in movies you can actually book

Amazing hotels you’ve seen in movies you can actually book

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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6 amazing bucket-list golf destinations, explained

Sand Valley golf resort in wisconsin

A view of Sand Valley Golf Resort in Wisconsin.

Evan Schiller

Welcome to GOLF’s Travel Mailbag, a series in which members of our staff field your course- and travel-related queries. Have a question for a future mailbag? Tweet us at @golf_com.

Which mega golf resort is right for me?

Per usual, a ton of our most recent batch of questions asked about golf’s mega resorts. The best time to go to Bandon? Cabot vs. Sand Valley? Pinehurst vs. Bandon? What resorts should I go to? These types of questions come in a lot. But without knowing all the relevant details — your budget, your schedule, the makeup of your group, your appetite for airport security lines, and so forth — it’s tough to narrow a response to a single suggestion. So we figured we’d create this handy explainer about the six resorts we receive the most questions about: Bandon Dunes, Cabot Links, Destination Kohler, Pinehurst, Sand Valley and Streamsong. Here’s hoping these details help clarify your thinking. Now the tough part: deciding where to go.

And if you’re looking for even more information on potential destinations, check out GOLF’s Top 100 Resorts page here.

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (Bandon, Ore.)

How to get there: The closest commercial airport is in North Bend, about 30 minutes from the resort. But another popular option is to fly into Eugene. It’s a longer drive from there to Bandon (about 2 1/2 hours), but it’s also a bigger airport, with a far greater number of flights. Same goes for Portland, which is about a 4 1/2-hour drive.

Courses: Five 18-hole courses; one 13-hole par-3 course; and a 100,000-square foot putting course.

Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

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Restaurants: Five on site, ranging from refined to casual grab-and-go.

Why you should go: No destination in the modern era has done more to change the image of American golf than Bandon Dunes, where Mike Keiser proved that if you built it, they would come, provided that you built it really well. Nor does any property on the planet have a greater concentration of Top 100 Courses. Part of the fun of a trip to Bandon is weighing in on the requisite debate over which of the 18-holers reigns supreme — Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old MacDonald, or Sheep Ranch. You may even decide that the 13-hole Preserve is the one you love the best.

Insider’s tip: Like many top resorts, Bandon has been jam-packed of late. But even when every room is taken, slots are sometimes open on the tee sheet. In other words, you might still be able to book golf, with the option of renting a house nearby.

More: Visit the resort website here.

How to get there: The closest commercial airport is in Halifax, just under a four-hour drive from the resort.

Courses: Two 18-holes courses and a 10-hole par-3 course.

The par-3 16th at Cabot Cliffs.

Christian Hafer

Restaurants: Three dining options on property: a pub, a bar and a refined restaurant overlooking the water.

Why you should go: Tucked along the coast of a sleepy fishing village, Cabot offers great golf with a vivid sense of place. Both its 18-hole courses, Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs, are on GOLF’s list of Top 100 Courses in the World, though they offer something of a study in contrasts. Where Links is a layout of understated grace, Cliffs lives up to its billing with the eye-popping drama of holes etched atop towering seaside bluffs. Together, they rank among the finest one-two punches anywhere.

Insider’s tip: You’ve come this far. Go a little bit farther, taking an extra day to visit Highland Links, a public-access bucket-lister by Stanley Thompson, Canada’s Alister Mackenzie, a giant of Golden Age design. It’s about a 2 1/2-hour drive from Cabot, and the scenery alone is worth the trip.

More: Visit the resort website here.

Destination Kohler (Kohler, Wis.)

How to get there: The closest commercial airport is Milwaukee, about an hour from the resort, though many travelers also fly into Chicago’s O’Hare, which is just under 2 1/2 hours away.

Courses: Four 18-hole courses, a 10-hole par-3 course, and a two-acre putting course.

The Baths par-3 course opened this year at Destination Kohler.

Destination Kohler

Restaurants: Eleven, with varied menu styles and settings.

Why you should go: You’ve seen it on TV, most recently at this year’s Ryder Cup. But Whistling Straits is even more spectacular in person, a wild work of artistry and engineering by Pete Dye, stretched along a once-flat expanse of Lake Michigan shoreline. Its three 18-hole siblings — the Irish Course, and the River and Meadow Valleys at Blackwolf Run — are also Dye designs and dramatic and demanding as well. But you’ll also want to make time for the Baths, a par-3 course that plays nicely with a few clubs in one hand and a cold drink in the other.

Insider’s tip: The Kohler Swing Studio bar. For guests staying at the Inn on Woodlake, the Kohler Swing Studio Bar is a perfect spot to finish out the day with a beverage overlooking the lake or while smacking shots on Topgolf simulators. Great fun with a group.

More: Visit the resort website here.

Pinehurst Resort (Pinehurst, N.C.)

How to get there: The closest commercial airport is in Raleigh-Durham, roughly a 90-minute drive from the resort. Charlotte is also just two hours away.

Courses: Nine 18-hole courses, a par-3 course and a putting course.

An aerial view of Pinehurst No. 4.

Christian Hafer

Restaurants: Nine on property, ranging from white-tablecloth dining to a casual brewpub and barbecue joint.

Why you should go: For many travelers, the number-one reason is No. 2, the Donald Ross masterpiece and resort centerpiece that has hosted more elite championships than any course in the United States. History runs deep here. But to say the past is ever-present doesn’t mean the property is trapped in amber. Updates and fresh additions abound, from the Gil Hanse redesign of Pinehurst No. 4 to the opening of The Cradle, a nifty par-3 course, and a putting course called Thistle Dhu. Maybe more than any resort in the country, Pinehurst strikes a balance between sepia-toned tradition and currents of contemporary cool.

Insider’s tip: Whether you snag a tee time at No. 2 or not, carve out an hour to have a drink or bite on the massive porch of The Deuce, which overlooks the 18th green of No. 2. It’s the perfect gathering spot to unwind, recap your round and watch the poor souls try to get up and down to save par.

More: Visit the resort website here.

Sand Valley Golf Resort (Nekoosa, Wis.)

How to get there: Most travelers from outside the region fly into Chicago, Milwaukee or Minneapolis. Of those, Milwaukee is closest (about 2 1/2hours) and Chicago is the farthest (about four hours). The drive from Minneapolis is about three hours.

Courses: Two 18-hole courses and a 17-hole par-3 course.

An aerial view of Sand Valley in Wisconsin.

Christian Hafer

Restaurants: Four options on property, ranging from farm-to-table fine dining to a food truck, which parks by the Sandbox, the par-3 course.

Why you should go: Picture Bandon Dunes, relocated to the Badger State. Sure, Sand Valley has no ocean, and fewer golf holes. But the Keiser family owns it, and its courses, designed, respectively, by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and David McLay Kidd (all of whom also worked at Bandon), reflect a similar modern-minimalist aesthetic, with emphasis on creative ground-game fun.

Insider’s tip: In addition to its courses, Sand Valley has 15 grass tennis courts, miles of hiking and fat-tire biking trails, and complimentary strength and stretching classes. It also has a culinary garden, a key component of the resort’s first-rate food and beverage program.

More: Visit the resort website here.

Streamsong Resort (Bowling Green, Fla.)

How to get there: The resort is roughly equidistant from the Tampa and Orlando airports. It’s about a 90-minute drive from each.

Courses: Three 18-hole courses, a 7-hole short course and a 1.2-acre putting course.

The Red Course at Streamsong.

Courtesy of Streamsong Resort

Restaurants: Four on property, plus three bars and lounges.

Why you should go: Conjure every stereotype of Florida golf — flat, lush, water-laden — and then imagine the opposite. Set amid the heaving dunes of a former phosphate mine, Streamsong offers the kind of rollicking golf that fans have come to expect from Gil Hanse, Tom Doak, and the duo of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the architects, respectively, behind the Black, Blue and Red Courses here. In keeping with its style of golf, the resort requires that you take a caddie and highly recommends that you walk, though carts are also available.

Insider’s tip: Can’t find the fairways? The resort has other target-based activities, including archery and sporting clays.

More: Visit the resort website here.

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from 8AM Golf affiliate GolfLogix.

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A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.

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40+ Amazing Travel Deals You Can Grab This Weekend

Whether you want to give the gift of travel or book your own vacation in the new year, now’s the time to do it. 

With Black Friday sales that often extend to Cyber Monday or Travel Tuesday (yep, that’s a thing), there are some phenomenal online travel deals to be purchased through the end of this month — and beyond.

So once you’ve fully recovered from your Thanksgiving Day feast, mosey on over to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone and reserve yourself or your loved one a trip of a lifetime — saving up to 60 percent along the way.

One tip before you book: Keep an eye out for blackout travel dates. Some of these bargains may not be available during peak travel season or holiday weekends. The company website should spell out all details. 

We’ve outlined just some of the great deals available worldwide below — but rest assured, even if you don’t see your dream trip listed here, chances are that hotel, tour, or cruise is offering some sort of special holiday sale. Many travel companies offer their lowest prices of the year at this time, so be sure to click around the internet this weekend.

Happy shopping from the comfort of your own home!

View from a one bedroom presidential terrace at Karisma Hotels and Resorts
One-bedroom presidential terrace at Karisma Hotels & Resorts, Jamaica (Photo Credit: Karisma Hotels & Resorts)

International Travel Deals For Hotels And Resorts

Iberostar Resorts In Dominican Republic, Mexico, Jamaica

Save up to 60 percent on stays at some of Iberostar’s finest five-star properties in the Caribbean including Iberostar Grand Bavaro in the Dominican Republic, Coral Level at Iberostar Selection Cancun, and Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Jamaica. All-inclusive rates include accommodations, food and drink, watersports, and activities and entertainment.

Book by November 30 for stays through December 20, 2022.

Karisma Hotels & Resorts In Mexico, Caribbean

Get up to 60 percent off the vast collection of properties from Karisma Hotels & Resorts. These include the all-inclusive El Dorado Spa Resorts, Azul Beach Resorts, Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts, and Margaritaville Island Reserve brands. 

Book by December 6 for travel through December 23, 2022.

Ocean Hotels Group, Barbados

Save 50 percent on Ocean Hotels Group properties: the new all-inclusive O2 Beach Club & Spa, all-inclusive Sea Breeze Beach House, or the boutique South Beach property. This deal is valid on all room/suite categories with a four-night minimum stay. 

Book by November 30 for stays through December 20, 2022. 


Bettoja Hotels, Rome, Italy

Save 30 percent on your stay at one of the Bettoja Hotels in Rome: Hotel Mediterraneo, Hotel Massimo D’Azeglio, and Hotel Atlantico. Rates start at 66 euros per night, double occupancy, and include free breakfast and Wi-Fi. Properties are located within walking distance of key landmarks such as the Colosseum, Opera House, Forum, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps.

Book between November 26 and December 2 for travel through March 2022.

&Beyond, Africa and South America

Get up to 30 percent off stays at iconic &Beyond destinations: the &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve; luxury lodges in the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, and the Masai Mara; as well as the &Beyond Vira Vira, the gateway to Patagonia. You can combine this offer with other specials, which allows for savings of up to 48 percent.

Book by December 3 for travel between January and May 2022 (excluding April 7 to April 27, 2022).

Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino

Get up to 35 percent off your stay at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino on the sandy white shores of Palm Beach. Don’t miss a toes-in-the-sand dinner at the beachfront restaurant Atardi. 

Book between November 26 and November 30 for stays through October 2022. 

Promo Code: L9Z

Casa Kimberly, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Enjoy 50 percent off a suite stay at intimate and elegant Casa Kimberly, the former secret love nest of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton that overlooks Banderas Bay. 

Book between November 26 and November 29 for stays through May 2022. 

Promo Code: CYBERCK

Sonesta Resorts In Sint Maarten

Get 50 percent off your stay at the family-friendly Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa and the next-door adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort. Located on the Dutch side of the island (Sint Maarten vs. Saint Martin), these properties are all-inclusive. 

Book by November 28 for travel through December 23, 2022. 

Promo Code: BFSALE

Tabacon Thermal Resort And Spa, Costa Rica

Enjoy 30 percent off current rates, plus a daily buffet breakfast for two at Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa at the base of Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano. Soak in the resort’s network of naturally flowing hot springs while taking in mountain and volcano views.

Book on November 29 for travel between August 27 and November 15, 2022. 

Entrance to Lotte New York Palace
Photo Credit: Lotte New York Palace

United States Travel Deals For Hotels And Resorts

Hotel Viking, Newport, Rhode Island

Save up to 40 percent on the best flexible rate at the Hotel Viking, a luxury hotel with an enviable downtown location in the heart of seaside Newport. 

Book between November 29 and December 5 for stays through March 2022. 

Promo Code: CYBER1

Hilton Head Health, South Carolina

Enjoy 20 percent off current 2021 rates, plus an extra $150 resort credit at this South Carolina wellness resort where guests spend 24/7 focused on their physical and mental wellness. Cooking demonstrations, sunrise walks on the beach, meditation, and kayaking are among the activities offered at Hilton Head Health.

Book by December 3 for travel between December 26, 2021, and April 2, 2022. 

Lotte New York Palace, New York City

Get up to 50 percent off all suites at the Lotte New York Palace, an iconic luxury hotel in midtown Manhattan. 

Book between November 26 and November 30 for travel through Labor Day Weekend 2022.

Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Enjoy room rates as low as $199 and get a $100 resort credit per night at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, a 1,300-acre property in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. On-site you’ll find a spa, championship golf courses, and family-friendly ski hills. 

Book by November 29 for travel through May 26, 2022.

Caribe Royale Orlando, Florida

Save 20 percent on the best available rate and up to $150 in dining credit at this all-suite resort near Walt Disney World and other key Orlando attractions. The Caribe Royale Orlando offers shuttle service to Walt Disney World and Disney Springs and has one-bedroom suites and two-bedroom villas.

Book by December 1 for stays through June 2022. 


The Lodge At Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Enjoy 30 percent off multi-day stays at The Lodge at Jackson Hole, an excellent base camp for exploring both Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Room rates include complimentary breakfast daily. 

Book between November 26 and December 3 for stays through May 14, 2022.

The Maven, Denver

Save 50 percent on your second night at The Maven, a hip hotel at downtown Denver’s “micro-district” Dairy Block. It’s close to popular Denver landmarks like Union Station, Larimer Square, and Coors Field, among many retail spots and restaurants. 

Book between November 26 and November 29 for stays through March 2022. 

Gale Chicago, Illinois

Get up to 60 percent off room rates at Gale Chicago, just off Michigan Avenue and Magnificent Mile in the heart of downtown Chicago. The historic property features contemporary amenities with rooftop terraces. 

Book between November 26 and November 29 for travel through December 2022.

Margaritaville Resort Times Square, New York City

Enjoy up to 50 percent savings when you book three or more nights at the new Margaritaville Times Square. Get on island time and enjoy Caribbean flair in the heart of Times Square. 

Book before December 2 for stays through November 30, 2022. 

The Winston, Solvang, California

Save 30 percent on all room types, starting at $213 a night, at The Winston, an upscale boutique hotel with just 14 rooms. It’s located in the charming Danish village’s historic Old Mill Clock Tower, one of the most photographed buildings in Solvang. 

Book by November 30 for travel through April 2022.

Lodging At Sunday River Resort, Maine

Save up to 20 percent on hotel and inn accommodations at Sunday River Resort in Newry, Maine. The ski resort is nestled in the Mahoosuc Mountains with eight interconnected peaks, 135 trails, and 18 lifts. 

Book by November 29 for lodging this ski season. 

Promo Code: WINTER20. 

Lift tickets are also on sale for as low as $45.

Hanalei Colony Resort, Kauai, Hawaii

Save 25 percent on the best available rates (excluding oceanfront and premium oceanfront suites) and get a free room upgrade with availability at check-in at Hanalei Colony Resort on Kauai’s North Shore. The resort is close to shopping, restaurant, and beach activities of Hanalei and the world-famous Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park.

Book by December 5 for travel through December 15, 2022. 

Lodging At U.S. National Parks

Get up to 30 percent off lodging in or near these U.S. national parks: Zion, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier, Death Valley. Other sales with the Xanterra Travel Collection include deals at Colorado’s The Broadmoor and with Windstar Cruises. 

Book by November 30 for select dates through May 2022.

Hurtigruten cruise to Antarctica with penguins
Hurtigruten cruise to Antarctica (Photo Credit: Becca Singelenberg / Hurtigruten Expeditions)

Travel Deals For Cruises

Virgin Voyages

Save up to 20 percent and receive a $100 bar tab bonus (when purchasing a $300 bar tab) on Virgin Voyages cruise itineraries. The Scarlet Lady sails in the Caribbean, while the Valiant Lady debuts in 2022 with trips in the Mediterranean. 

Book by November 29. Sail with Scarlet Lady December 1, 2021, to March 27, 2022. Sail with Valiant Lady March 18 to May 22, 2022.


Save up to $1,000 on veranda and ocean-view suites on select Seabourn voyages and up to $1,000 shipboard credit per suite through summer 2022. The elegant cruise line sails worldwide.

Book by November 30. 

Hurtigruten Expeditions

Enjoy up to 50 percent off adventure cruises to Alaska, Antarctica, the Galapagos, Norway, and other worldwide destinations. Not sure which itinerary is best for you? Take the Hurtigruten Expeditions’ quiz

Book by November 30 for select cruises through 2023.

Tour of Crater Lake by Intrepid Travel
Tour of Crater Lake by Intrepid Travel (Photo Credit: Intrepid Travel)

Travel Deals For Tours

Intrepid Travel

Get up to 25 percent off select Intrepid Travel trips worldwide or 15 percent off Intrepid trips in the United States and Canada. The world’s largest adventure travel company, Intrepid Travel offers more than 1,000 trips on all seven continents.

Book by December 1 for travel through March 31 (worldwide trips) or December 14, 2022 (U.S. and Canada trips). 

Abercrombie & Kent

Save up to 50 percent on your private journey to destinations around the world, including Botswana, Croatia, Chile, Egypt, Kenya, Peru, Tanzania, and Turkey, with Abercrombie & Kent’s Private Escapes Sale.

Book between November 29 and December 3 for travel on select dates in 2022. 


Save up to 20 percent on more than 40 trips across the globe with Trafalgar, a leading guided vacation company. Trips include in-destination transport, cherry-picked accommodations, and multiple meals all led by an expert guide. 

Book by November 30 for select 2022 trip departures. 

See The Sights Walking Tours of London

Enjoy 60 percent off private walking tours in London with See The Sights Tours. Itineraries include tours of key landmarks, a “Secret London” tour, as well as Harry Potter and royal palaces tours. 

Book by December 31 for tours throughout 2022. 

Promo Code: blackfriday

One More Travel Deal For Cyber Monday

MedjetAssist Membership

Get $50 off any individual annual membership and $75 off any family annual membership at Medjet, a global air medical transport and travel security membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if a member is 150 miles from home and lands in the hospital (including due to COVID-19), Medjet will arrange air medical transfer to the member’s hospital of choice and provide access to medical consultants and language translators: no health questions, claim forms, or deductibles.

Purchase on November 29. Valid for new memberships only.

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6 amazing Asia train journeys for food, scenery and culture

(CNN) — The Covid-19 pandemic has derailed many family reunions, destination weddings and long-awaited trips. And while some would-be globetrotters miss the hyper pace of travel circa 2019, others plan to adjust their travel style completely.

According to the 2021 Global Travel Trends survey of 3,000 travelers worldwide by American Express, 68% expressed interest in more sustainable travel; 78% said they were looking for travel experiences that relieve stress; and 61% said they wanted slower, longer trips than in the past.

A train journey could be just the ticket for those who have their eyes on Asia for a 2022 trip.

From zig-zagging up the rugged mountains of central Taiwan to a Rajasthan rail journey fit for a maharaja, these scenic train routes showcase some of Asia’s most beautiful landscapes and provide a much-needed opportunity to rest and reconnect with loved ones.

Belmond Eastern and Oriental Express, Bangkok to Singapore

Passengers of the Belmond Eastern and Oriental Express are treated to fine-dining experiences.

Passengers of the Belmond Eastern and Oriental Express are treated to fine-dining experiences.


You’ve probably heard of the Orient Express — an oft-romanticized long-distance rail journey between Paris and Istanbul (though the route varied) that ran from 1883 to 2009.

After the rail service ceased operation, the Belmond hotel group purchased the train carriages and created its own collection of romantic rail adventures that channel the grace and splendor of the namesake.

In Asia, travelers can enjoy old-world charm aboard Belmond’s Eastern and Oriental Express, which runs a four-day journey between Bangkok and Singapore with stops at the River Kwai (a poignant World War II landmark), Kanchanaburi and Kuala Lumpur.

The train feels like a roving hotel thanks to its fine-dining experiences, panoramic windows, handsome cherry wood-paneling and Malaysian silk embroidery.

The observation cart at the back of the train is another highlight. On this teakwood deck, guests can enjoy a cocktail in a rattan chair as the scenery glides past on this teakwood deck.

Day to day, the journey also weaves in many cultural experiences. One day, passengers might be admiring Peranakan architecture in George Town; the next, banana plantations or biking through Thai paddy fields.

Back on board, breakfast in bed starts the day on the right foot. Afternoon tea, cocktail hour with live piano music and four-course dinners evoke the romance and luxury of the original Oriental Express.

Seven Stars, Kyushu, Japan

Japan’s bullet trains may be famed for their speed but a ride on the Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu, a luxury sleeper, is a more exclusive experience.

There are several contenders for the best rail journey in Japan. But if it’s scenery and comfort travelers are seeking, the Seven Stars is hard to beat.

Unlike Japan’s famous bullet trains, Seven Stars takes a much slower pace, cruising gracefully across Kyushu’s seven prefectures so passengers can take in the dramatic mountain and ocean views in peace.

The island lies just south of the Japanese mainland and is a treasure trove of natural beauty.

On the four-day journey, guests will get to warm up in an onsen (hot spring bath) in Beppu, experience a five-star ryokan (Japanese inn), learn about local crafts in the city of Oita, and much more.

Designed to be an intimate experience, the wine-red train can accommodate up to 26 people per journey, spread across 12 suites in five train cars.

Some find the suites charmingly retro; others would call them dated. But there’s no arguing with the panoramic views from each cabin.

The other train cars host the “Blue Moon” bar and lounge and the “Jupiter” dining car, where master chefs celebrate Kyushu’s bounty of fresh, seasonal ingredients.

In true Japanese fashion, the train serves as a living museum of art and craftsmanship. Guests will be surrounded by beauty and details, from elaborate kumiko woodwork to aritayaki, the art of Japanese porcelain.

Sri Lanka Main Line, Kandy to Ella

The hilly interior of Sri Lanka is best explored by the charming trains which climb through countryside covered with tea plantations.

The link between the former kingdom of Kandy and Ella, a mountain village to the south, lives up to its reputation as a must-do in Sri Lanka. And it’s perfect for travelers who don’t mind a little chaos.

The first-class carriage on the bright-blue train features air conditioning and panoramic windows so that passengers can relish the sweeping green views of rolling hills, stone bridges, cliffs, jungles and grand estates.

Second- and third-class cabins will be more crowded with no assigned seating. But it’s in these cabins where travelers let their legs dangle out of an open train doorway or stick their heads out a window to feel the mountain breeze in their hair.

Along the journey, vendors squeeze between the crowds, offering an array of samosas, baked sweets and tea.

The trip takes seven to nine hours, and tickets range from $0.80 to $20, depending on the fare class: all in all, an unforgettable way to spend a day.

Palace on Wheels, Rajasthan, India

India's Palace on Wheels offers eight-day tours of northern India.

India’s Palace on Wheels offers eight-day tours of northern India.

Palace on Wheels/Royal Indian Trains

Few rail experiences can compare with the Palace on Wheels, which rolls across the former princely states of northern India.

Let’s start with the train itself: Launched in 1982, it features cars used privately by Rajasthan royalty pre-independence that were renovated in 2009.

Channeling the opulence of the Raj, guests can expect a tapestry of silk and gleaming wood, ornate furniture and silver tableware.

Two dedicated dining carriages, a Royal Spa, and a bar and lounge round out the luxurious experience in the common areas.

The 14 guest coaches, each named after a former princely state of Rajputana, give five-star hotels a run for their money when it comes to accommodations.

The Palace on Wheels is due to start rolling again in late 2022.

The Palace on Wheels is due to start rolling again in late 2022.

Palace on Wheels/Royal Indian Trains

Each brims with regal details like chandeliers, oil paintings, handicrafts, intricate silver embroidery and plush carpets with enough room to include a mini pantry, library and lounge.

The majority of the cabins have twin beds, aside from the Super Deluxe Cabins, outfitted with queen-sized beds.

Operating between September and April each year, the eight-day itinerary begins in the capital of Delhi before heading into northwestern India, where historical forts, palaces, bazaars, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and sprawling national parks await.

Stops in Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and more ensure passengers have time to explore the history and heritage of the region.

It’s all about slow travel and immersive experiences, offering travelers a chance to spot tigers in Ranthambore National park, enjoy a royal Udaipur’s City Palace, sip sundowners in the dunes outside Jaisalmer and explore Keoladeo National Park.

Before circling back to the capital, the train makes a final stop in Agra, home to the Taj Mahal.

The train has been on hold since March 2020 due to Covid-19, but is slated for a major renovation in May 2022, followed by regular operations by September 2022.

Alishan Forest Railway, Central Taiwan

Alishan Railway

Taiwan’s historic Alishan Forest Railway travels to the island’s highest train station.

courtesy Liao Yuan-chiao

Rail journeys have long been a calling card in Taiwan, home to a stunning mix of forest, mountain and ocean scenery.

One of the most beautiful routes is the Alishan Forest Railway, a century-old line initially used by the logging industry but relaunched as a tourist experience in 1933.

The historic diesel locomotives run 44 miles from Chiayi city in central Taiwan into the Alishan mountains, zig-zagging up to Chushan Station, the highest station in Taiwan.

During the three-hour journey, passengers will pass through more than 50 tunnels, 75 bridges and varied natural gems, from rivers and waterfalls to dense cypress woodlands and misty mountain tops.

It’s also a favorite among train enthusiasts, who praise the line’s impressive route track, which essentially corkscrews up the mountain to ascend the steep gradients.

Unlike some train journeys, passengers can hop on and off independently for detours — think short hikes to an observatory, a visit to an oolong tea plantation, or a lakeside picnic.

The Vietage, Vietnam

The Vietage carries just 12 passengers on a six-hour journey through Central Vietnam.

The Vietage carries just 12 passengers on a six-hour journey through Central Vietnam.

The Vietage

What the 30-hour journey lacks in amenities and luxuries, it makes up for in scenery, passing through Hai Van Pass, the beaches of Lang Co and near-ubiquitous rice paddy fields.

But this bare-bones ride isn’t for everyone. For travelers seeking a more comfortable experience, The Vietage offers a stark contrast — and a price tag to match at $350 per person one-way.

Launched by Anantara Hotels in 2020, the six-hour train ride carries no more than 12 passengers through Central Vietnam between Da Nang and Quy Nhon, formerly the seat of the Cham Kingdom.

The scenery is as peaceful as it is lush: water buffaloes graze in wide-open fields, humble villages flit by and impossibly green fields beg to be photographed.

Onboard, marble tables, rattan screens and private booths evoke the romance of vintage rail travel.

Tickets also include a complimentary three-course French meal with Vietnamese influences, free-flow wine and beer, plus a head and shoulder massage.

Top image: Belmond’s Eastern and Oriental Express travels through Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

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The Best Ski Resort Dining With Amazing Views

When considering the best winter resort options, many people look for quality skiing, breathtaking mountainous surroundings, and other activities to keep the group entertained. Dining options, though, may not even make the list. Ski resort food is often adequate and nothing more, with the goal of simply providing enough fuel during your stay.

However, that is not the case for these exceptional fine-dining experiences available at ski resorts around North America. These resorts offer the very best on-mountain dining, with incredible five-star food and drink options and serene views brought together for a meal to remember.

The Roundhouse on-mountain restaurant at Sun Valley with gondola in front
Sun Valley

The Roundhouse, Sun Valley Resort

Sun Valley, Idaho

The Roundhouse at Sun Valley is the nation’s original on-mountain restaurant. It opened in 1939 and, more than 80 years later, is still a favorite among guests for both lunch and dinner. It’s best known for its impeccable service, hand-crafted cocktails, five-star atmosphere, and, of course, mouth-watering menus. Aside from the delectable cuisine, the panoramic views of the Wood River Valley and the surrounding peaks are absolutely breathtaking. The Roundhouse sits halfway up Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain – world famous for its steep, perfectly-groomed ski runs – at just over 7,700 feet of elevation. On one side of the restaurant, diners can enjoy peering down on the classic ski town of Ketchum in the valley below; on the other, they’re afforded views of skiers and snowboarders flying down the slopes.

Lunchtime at The Roundhouse is a more casual affair than dinner and offers the ideal setting for skiers to recharge. The lunch menu consists of hearty sandwiches, crisp salads, and classic comfort-food snacks. For those who enjoy a midday beverage (and who doesn’t while on vacation?), the restaurant offers a fantastic selection of refreshing specialty cocktails. We recommend enjoying a hot toddy while warming up by the fireplace.

Dinner at The Roundhouse is a full experience. After dusk, the only way to get to the restaurant is in style, aboard the Roundhouse Express gondola. The gondola swoops guests up from the base of Bald Mountain and travels swiftly uphill for about 10 minutes — a perfect opportunity to enjoy the evening views while making the 1,975-foot ascent from the valley floor. Upon arrival, we recommend diners take a beat to enjoy a signature cocktail at Averell’s bar (located downstairs from the restaurant and named for Averell Harriman, the railroad mogul who established Sun Valley as America’s first destination ski resort way back in 1936) before settling in at their table. Once seated, sit back and let the best-in-class waitstaff take care of the rest. Menu selections are made simple with The Roundhouse’s signature four-course prix-fixe dinner, but make sure to save some room for their famous fondue.

Pro Tip: Reservations are required and can book up well in advance. The Roundhouse opens for winter lunch service on December 4, 2021, and dinner service on December 17, 2021. They are taking reservations now, so don’t wait!

mountain view from Seven Glaciers at Alyeska Resort in Alaskamountain view from Seven Glaciers at Alyeska Resort in Alaska

Seven Glaciers, Alyeska Resort

Girdwood, Alaska

The Seven Glaciers restaurant at Alyeska Resort in Alaska is another true dining experience, rather than a simple dinner out. The establishment gets its name from the stunning seven hanging glaciers in Girdwood valley, all visible on a clear night from the observation deck or through the 7-foot-tall windows.

Although Seven Glaciers is a AAA Four Diamond restaurant, in true Alaska fashion, dress code does not apply. Dining outfits may range from diamonds and black-tie to jeans and boots, but no one cares nor judges. The experience begins with a scenic tram ride 2,300 feet up Mount Alyeska to an elevator lift, where diners are then guided down a gold carpet walled by towers of wine. Grab a cocktail at the bar or take in the mountainous air on the observation deck before settling into the elegant dining room.

One of the many unique aspects of Seven Glaciers is their emphasis on using locally grown and raised ingredients for their dishes. The freshly caught fish includes salmon and halibut from Alaska waters, and their signature game includes Aspen Ridge angus beef and wagyu steaks. They feel strongly about supporting their local community of farmers and growers, and even thank them by name on their website. You’ll appreciate the dedication, too, the second the fresh, full flavor hits your tastebuds. Let the chef expertly guide your dinner journey via their two available prix-fixe menus.

Editor’s Note: Seven Glaciers is temporarily closed but will reopen December 10, 2021.

The Viking Yurt in Park City, Utah at night

The Viking Yurt, Park City Mountain Resort

Park City, Utah

The Viking Yurt at Park City Mountain Resort is the perfect break from the summit to the base for a beer or bite. But in the evening, it becomes a gourmet, six-course, Norwegian-inspired experience. 

The evening begins with a snowcat pulled sleigh ride up the mountain, where you can enjoy the stars and twinkling lights of the town. The ride lasts 23 minutes with a 1,800-foot elevation gain, so hats, gloves, and layers are recommended. While you might want to wear a cute pair of shoes, you’ll be walking across the snow during the evening, so think warm boots.

The sound of an antique baby grand piano and the beautiful glow of candlelight set the mood when you arrive. You’ll feast on lobster and salmon bisque, a variety of fruits and cheeses, beef short ribs, mashed potatoes, and marzipan and valrhona chocolate cake for dessert. Once you’re full, you’ll waddle back to the sleigh for the ride down the mountain. The entire evening lasts about 3 and a half hours.

Outside of the Christmas holiday period, dinner costs $240.59 per person. Alcohol is not included with the dinner price but is available to purchase. That’s a Utah thing, by the way. 

The Yurt only seats 40 for dinner, and that number could be reduced. You must book a table for two, four, or six. If your party is an odd number, you’ll want to have a conversation with the reservation folks.

tabletop food spread at The Mountain Room at Sunday River
Nick Lambert, Sunday River

The Mountain Room, Sunday River

Newry, Maine

While most of the dining choices on our list are for those special evening events, The Mountain Room experience is only offered during the day at Sunday River, Maine’s second-largest ski resort. Chef and Maine native Harding Lee Smith is a well-known Portland restaurateur. What he offers at Sunday River is something you won’t see at most resorts.

Just to give you a sampling of the menu options: fried scallop PLT (sandwich), pork belly buns, oxtail, duck rillette, and whipped farm ricotta. The list goes on. There isn’t a chicken finger or generic cheeseburger in sight. Top it all off with a Maine craft brew, of which there are many, and they are fabulous. You’ll have a fantastic afternoon.

You don’t have to actually ski to the mid-mountain Peak Lodge to enjoy Chef Smith’s fare. You can also ride the Chondola to visit, but you’ll need a lift ticket either way.

Beano’s Cabin, Beaver Creek Resort

Beaver Creek, Colorado

If you are making a trip to Beaver Creek this winter, dining at Beano’s Cabin is an experience not to be missed! It is known as one of Colorado’s top restaurants, having earned the coveted four-diamond designation from AAA.

While the elegant, rustic cabin is a favorite among those looking for a five-star dinner, getting there is half the fun. Beano’s Cabin is located on Beaver Creek Mountain, within the White River National Forest. Check-in for the restaurant is at the designated Beano’s Greeter at the Beaver Creek CBar. Guests are given warm blankets and whisked away on a 20-minute open-air sleigh ride up Beaver Creek Mountain. Upon arrival at Beano’s, guests are invited into the lobby to remove coats, gloves, scarves, and even boots. From there, guests are offered comfy slippers and shown to their table.

The luxurious log setting is the perfect backdrop for the five-course dinner. The menu features local Colorado favorites and prides itself on an exceptional wine list and top-notch service. If there’s ever a time to splurge on a meal, this is it!

Eagle’s Eye, Kicking Horse Resort

Golden, British Columbia

Known as Canada’s “most elevated dining experience,” Eagle’s Eye Restaurant is a culinary experience not to be missed. The restaurant sits 7,700 feet above sea level and offers stunning, panoramic views of three mountain ranges and five national parks.

Eagle’s Eye is open for dinner reservations on Friday and Saturday nights — and on holidays. Every dinner includes a gondola ride up the side of the mountain. Guests are also welcome for lunch or aprés — but must have purchased a lift ticket or have a season’s pass.

The dinner menu consists mainly of local fare influenced by classic French techniques, with rich flavors and savory sauces prepared in-house. Besides being a fantastic restaurant, Eagle’s Eye has an incredible bar with a backdrop like no other. It may be one of the only bars where you will need to wear sunglasses. But if you forgot yours, they have spares on hand.

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